Revealed: Sega's cancelled Shenmue HD remake - with fully updated graphics (EuroGamer) Update 16/10 - Sega respond

Ceej

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Shenmue - a game of discovery and adventure. It's a timeless classic and one with a deep and fascinating history - which becomes even more compelling today. As we know, Sega tasked UK developer d3t with remastering Shenmue and its sequel for the current generation consoles and PC. What we received was a good game that brought classic Shenmue to today's machines, albeit with visuals based almost exclusively on the original AM2 assets. But what we now know is that prior to completing this work, plans were afoot for something considerably more ambitious - a comprehensive remake with completely revamped artwork more in step with the capabilities of the host platforms. We've seen it and today, you will too.

So, what's the story here? Well, the details are murky but as we understand it, this more in-depth remaster/remake was in development for quite some time before the plug was pulled due to budget constraints and development delays - and perhaps owing to concerns with the nature of some of the changes being made. We only have a rough idea of what happened and we can't presume to understand all of the business reasons behind Sega's change in direction, but the bottom line is that in common with other unfinished and cancelled projects, the work-in-progress video we received adds a further dimension to the history of one of gaming's most celebrated franchises.



UPDATE 16/10/18 3:52pm: Sega has been in touch with a statement - "SEGA and D3T indeed had started exploring the feasibility of a full HD remaster for Shenmue I & II. That being said, we soon realised that this was a project with its own set of challenges. Working with original animations and characters but meshing them with enhanced HD visuals gave us a game that we felt would not meet the standards that Shenmue fans expect and deserve. Rather than going ahead with a release that may disappoint fans, we chose to focus on bringing the classic game to PC and modern consoles, so that new players could experience Shenmue's original charm."

https://www.eurogamer.net/amp/digit...lled-shenmue-remake?__twitter_impression=true
 
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With the success of the re-released version that we have today, do you think this cancelled version will ever get a second chance? and was it supposed to be made by the same team at d3t?
Thanks for the great work @dark1x
Unlikely. Sega UK basically closed up shop last week and lots of people were let go. QA was moved to Bulgaria. This whole project was started in the UK hence d3t working with them. No chance this is revived. :(
 
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...and there we have it, the reason why d3t spent 3 years in development and we ended up with a buggy re-release...they were working on a remaster the whole time. Thanks for this, John. Great work, even if it breaks my heart to know what could've been!

And wow, I did not know that about SEGA UK...does that mean d3t have been relieved of their post-launch support duties? Or will they keep going till the game's JP release?
 

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So weird. If they had lots of leftover assests from this such as HD textures etc. I do wonder why they never salvaged them for the final re-release.

Very sad that this version never saw the light of day. I really hope it gets a second chance in the form of some kind of mega-update one day. Even if it's just some of the lighting effects and textures. I'd like to think that unexpected success of the re-release makes it a possibility, but who knows?
 
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Very interesting.
It looks intriguing for obvious reasons, although there are still several factors which make me actually prefer remasters over remakes.
Remakes - from my very subjective perspective - tend to somehow lack elements of coherence, especially between the visuals and game mechanics in place.

Hypotetically having both is great, but if I had to choose only one, it would generally be a remastered version.
 
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So weird. If they had lots of leftover assests from this such as HD textures etc. I do wonder why they never salvaged them for the final re-release.
Some of the geometry is different, foliage is completely different, which means they wouldn't have been able to use all of their new work. And because you can't have a mix of old and new, they'd have to either redo them all or none at all.

Also there's a suggestion in the video that SEGA Japan might not have liked the look of it.
 
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Wow! I never would have thought that something like this went on behind the scenes! Thanks very much for the info and the video.

The whole time while watching, I was trying to figure out how I felt about the decision and if I would have preferred a HD remake. I'd love to have the games brought up to today's standards of graphics, audio & tech, but at the same time a HD remake would lose a lot of the original feeling, atmosphere and immersion that Shenmue is known for.

I wonder if Sega will comment on this themselves, and if we will get some answers to why this was cancelled, as that would be extremely interesting. If they ever did get back to work on this, they know that the sales would be the greater or equal to those of the HD re-releases. We can always dream lol.
 
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The more natural lighting makes it look a little flat from the original, still looking somewhat better, but man, the texture and modelling work was spot-on IMO.

Too bad they scrapped this,

Is there an estimated time this was worked on ?
 

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Thank you John.

I will give the video and Eurogamer article an in-depth read once home from work. ?
 
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It looks really good, and consistent with what I was hoping they would do 2 years ago. What we ended up getting was fine after they patched most of the problems, although I wish they would have improved the audio quality. I guess this also confirms that they really weren't working for 3 years on the ports we got, since they shifted to doing what we eventually got less than a year ago.

I doubt they'd be willing to dump this into Steam beta branch, but I wish they could. Thanks for sharing John!

And wow, I did not know that about SEGA UK...does that mean d3t have been relieved of their post-launch support duties? Or will they keep going till the game's JP release?
Ditto, that seems odd given just a few years ago they made the decision to shift western console development duties away from the Sega US and let Sega Europe handle them instead. (Or something like that) Did Shenmue actually meet their expectations? Kind of a rhetorical question, since they haven't revealed sales numbers.

Also wondering if that means last week was the drop dead date for work on the Japanese version, which they'd need to have finished around this time to release to manufacturing.
 
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Seems like the models have at least a smoothness maps and normal maps.
The re releases just have albedos right ?
 

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Wow just wow. It looked so good.

There could have been any number of reasons why this was pulled. Budget. Style anything.

It is what I'd have loved a update to look like and shows what was possible. Sounds like the scope of the project changed hugely and D3t had to adapt and could have contributed to the August issues.

Maybe we will see a full blown remake soon. Maybe.
 
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Yeah, I'd be curious to know what engine this was running on. I don't know which would be harder; trying to recreate an ambitious game like Shenmue from scratch, or trying to modify the spaghetti code of Shenmue to include new graphical features.

If this were a full remake, I imagine it would have been a seamless world, i.e. no loading times? Was audio re-recording planned, or would this have been an "Outcast: Second Contact" deal where audio would remain the same while graphics get touched up?

Apart from this remake, what else did Sega UK work on before closing shop?

From SteamDB it looks like the current remasters are still being patched, which is good news: https://steamdb.info/app/758330/history/

Makes it even more horrible that d3t were attacked for their work and accused of being lazy, berated for taking a little time out for eating some forklift cake after working so hard on these remasters :/

Thanks again for all your Shenmue videos, @dark1x , they are much appreciated :)
 
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Holy crap Sega !! what have you done :O just when things were finally simmering down after 17 years. This news should never have released. Sega should have stuck it in a crate and hidden it in Area 51 next to the Ark of the Covenant.

I dont believe in curses & all that stuff but this game is cursed. FACT!!!
 
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Jibby

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Unlikely. Sega UK basically closed up shop last week and lots of people were let go.
Would it be reasonable to suggest that the leaked footage came from one of those laid off employees?
 
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If you guys have questions, feel free to ask away!
I have a few:

How did this come to light? Is it related to the end of Sega UK? I guess you maybe can't say too much on this point.

Also, why did Sega UK take such an interest in Shenmue? Sega US basically no longer exists, right?
 
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